Things to consider when choosing limestone flooring...

Did you know that there are several different types of limestone flooring? And that some types are more hardwearing than others?

Limestone is a sedimentary rock that is made up from a combination of calcium carbonate-containing minerals, including calcite and aragonite. The different types include rock-like travertine, oolitic which is characterised by blob-like raised areas, and fossiliferous which contains visible fossil fragments.

Limestone tends to vary from light white, to a paler yellow shade. The darker stones result from grains of clay or sand grains, non-calcium organic remains and irons. You can also get very dark limestone. As a general rule of thumb, paler limestones tend to be less hardwearing than darker stones, so opting for a darker shade of limestone flooring in high traffic areas makes sense.

As well as providing a fabulous natural surface indoors, limestone flooring can also be installed outdoors. Laid in this way, it can create a fabulously seamless style; linking the home and garden. To create this popular look, you’ll need to check that the limestone is frost resistance, see if a thicker format is available. You’ll also need to consider any extra maintenance.

In all areas, colour is a key consideration – from an aesthetic and a maintenance point of view. If you choose a very pale, even-coloured limestone flooring for a high traffic area, like a busy hallway, it will show up more marks. If you want to keep maintenance to a minimum, consider a warmer shade instead; with colour variation to disguise boot marks and paw prints!

Finishes

When it comes to limestone flooring finishes, there’s lots to think about, starting with the different types of tile edge. It’s a seemingly small detail but it can create a very different look. The main options include:

  • Square edge – ideal for a sleek, contemporary look.
  • Tumbled edge – gives a worn, more traditional look.
  • Broken edge – gives a less regular edge to the limestone flooring.
  • Pillowed edge – a rounded and softened edge often seen on flagstones.
  • Chamfered edge – a ‘grooved’ edge used to stop certain stones chipping; (gives a clean modern look that’s more commonplace in marble but sometimes used in limestone flooring too.)

Then there’s the actual surface of the limestone flooring. Options include:

  • Honed – for a smooth finish.
  • Tumbling – perfect for an aged look; it will soften the colour tone of the stone and give a slightly roughened surface.
  • Brushing – creates texture; ideal for outside or in wet areas, as it gives non-slip qualities.
  • Acid treated - the acid will etch into the surface, whilst bringing the colour out for an aged look.
  • Sand-blasting - gives a chalky effect that softens the colour of a honed tile.
  • Polished – more commonly seen in marble, but sometimes done on limestone flooring to give the stone more of a sheen.

Limestone FlooringSize and style

Having narrowed down the edge style and surface finish of your limestone flooring, you now need to consider the size of the individual tiles. What type of look are you after? A random pattern or something more regimented? If your subfloor is uneven, it’s worth considering stones in a smaller format to compensate for this. If you don’t have any issues to cater for, larger-format limestone flooring tiles will create a more contemporary look, with fewer grout lines. This type of look works really well when it’s continued through doorways, creating a fluid look and maximising the feeling of space. To achieve this look in narrow hallways, lay your limestone flooring tiles lengthways, towards the source of light.

Staying on budget

So, how do you choose your ideal type of limestone flooring, whilst keeping an eye on budget? Avoiding unusual hand-worked finishes will keep the cost down. Origin can also have a bearing; European stones are typically more expensive than limestone flooring sourced from further afield – but, in eco-terms, it makes more sense to buy from our neighbours. Very large formats can also prove more expensive, as material can only be sourced from certain sized blocks.

A final, very important consideration is timescale. Give yourself sufficient time to choose the right type of limestone flooring for your home. Once it’s down, it will (hopefully) be there for a lifetime. You may want to live with a few sample tiles, laid on the floor, for a week or so. Some limestone flooring may only be available by special order, especially thicker formats for outdoors. So, plan ahead, carefully research all of the options and choose the perfect finish for you.

Find out more about our limestone flooring collections, visit www.indigenous.co.uk, join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Or pop into our Burford showroom to talk through some interior ideas over a coffee!

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